THE NON-EVENTS OF 70 AD
There are three prophetic passages that are widely interpreted as having been completed in 70 AD. Those three are Matt. 24:1-2, Matt. 22:1-13 and Luke 21:20-24. We are told by historians that the temple and the city of Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans. But these events are not mentioned in the Word of God. Most of us in our study of God’s Word determine to compare Scripture with Scripture. To me that says that most of us agree that the way to come to a correct understanding of any Scripture is to match it with what God had written elsewhere in His Word. But that time honored principle is abandoned when it comes to these three passages. Why is that? Why is anyone content with trying to match Scripture with an event that is not recorded in Scripture?
I believe that God’s Word is all-sufficient for any Christian who desires to know God and His ways. In other words, we don’t need anything but His Word in our desire to know what He has revealed about Himself in the Bible. That seems like a rather innocuous statement because I think most Christians would say a hearty “Amen” to that. That is to say, I think most would agree that the Bible is all-sufficient and complete in so far as what God would have us to understand of Himself and His plans for the ages. And yet, (as far as I know) it is almost universally accepted that God’s Word is not complete in regard to the three prophecies that are said to have been fulfilled by an event that is not even recorded in the Bible. That means that we are interpreting Scripture, not with Scripture, but with the writings of human historians. (I might also add that historians in general do not have a reputation for total accuracy).
So that I am not misunderstood, I am not saying that the temple was not destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans. I am saying that if we really believe that the Bible is complete and all-sufficient for the purpose of the study of His ways, we should take the interpretation of those passages from the Bible, not from the records of man.
Furthermore, man’s record of history is fallible and only God’s Word is infallible. Therefore if we base our conclusion on whether a prophecy has been fulfilled on man’s record of history, we may be basing our conclusions on incorrect data. So I believe that with the exception of end time prophecies, the fulfillment of all prophecies are recorded in the Word of God, not in the fallible record of man. The generation that will live in the end times will see the fulfillment of end time prophecies, and will not need to consult with historians.*
There are five reasons for my belief that we should not forsake the principle of interpreting Scripture with Scripture. These five reasons will be discussed below.
THE TEMPLE OF THE TRIBULATION
PROPHECY IN THE DISPENSATION OF THE MYSTERY
“ONE STONE UPON ANOTHER”
WILL GOD DESTROY JERUSALEM AGAIN?
APPENDIX I: A SCRIPTURAL INTERPRETATION OF MATTHEW 24:1-2
APPENDIX II: A SCRIPTURAL INTERPRETATION OF MATTHEW 22:1-13
APPENDIX III: A SCRIPTURAL INTERPRETATION OF LUKE 21:20-24
APPENDIX IV. FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF EZEKIEL 5:9
THE TEMPLE OF THE TRIBULATION
We read in II Thess. 2:3-4, “…….and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the Temple of God, shewing himself that he is God”. This passage obviously concerns the antichrist. The antichrist will reveal his contemptuous ways in the tribulation. One of the things he will do will be to sit “in the Temple of God…..“. This tells us that there will be a temple in Jerusalem during the tribulation. But there is absolutely no mention of the building of a temple before the tribulation. Considering the importance of the temple and the fact that Solomon’s temple, Ezra’s temple and the millennial temple are spoken of quite extensively in the Word of God, I would think that the non-mention of the building of the tribulation temple would strike the student of God’s Word as noteworthy. I would like to suggest a reason that it was not mentioned.
I suggest that because the destruction of 70 AD was not recorded in God’s Word, it did not happen in God’s eyes. That is to say, in man’s reality the temple was destroyed in 70 AD, but in God’s reality it never happened and that is why it is not recorded. There is a precedence for this suggestion in what we read of Melchizedec.
We read of Melchizedec in Heb. 7:3 that he was, “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life……”. Let us consider the oft repeated verse that Christ was made “a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec” (Ps. 110:4, Heb. 5:6, and 7:17). The phrase “after the order of” tells us that Melchizedec was a type of Christ. Melchizedec was therefore a man. As is true of every other man, Melchizedec did indeed have a father, he did indeed have a mother, and he did indeed have a beginning and an end to his life. But Heb. 7:3 tells us that he did not have any of those things. How are we to understand this apparent contradiction in God’s perfect Word?
I suggest that because there is no record in God’s Word of Melchizedec’s parents or his birth and death, that in God’s sight, i.e. in God’s reality, Melchizedec had none of those things.
So too, because the destruction of 70 AD is not recorded in God’s Word, in God’s sight, i.e. in God’s reality, it never happened. In other words, because the temple was, in God’s sight, never destroyed, there is no reason to record the building of it in, or before, the end times.*
PROPHECY IN THE DISPENSATION OF THE MYSTERY
I believe most dispensationalists agree that prophecy that centers on Israel is not being fulfilled in the dispensation of the mystery because Israel has been temporarily (until the end times) set aside as God’s chosen People. I believe that the setting aside of Israel was at Acts 28. Historians are divided as to the year of Acts 28, but they put it between 63 and 68 AD. No historian that I know of puts it as late as 70 AD.
But if we believe that the three prophecies discussed in this study were fulfilled in 70 AD, we are saying that they were indeed fulfilled in the dispensation of the mystery. There is an inconsistency in that. That is to say, we cannot logically believe that no Israel centered prophecy is being fulfilled in the present dispensation and still claim that the destruction of the temple, which is certainly an Israel centered prophecy, was fulfilled in the present dispensation. On the other hand, if we see these prophecies as being fulfilled in the end times, as I believe they will be, we not only base our interpretations on Scripture, but we do not have those inconsistencies.
(There are two other prophecies that are, as far as I know, almost universally interpreted using man’s recorded history instead of the Word of God. They are Dan. 11:1-20 and the passage in Dan. 2 which tells us of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The paper on this web-site called “Have Any Of The Prophecies Of Daniel Eleven Been Fulfilled?” will prove from Scripture that the entire chapter is an end time prophecy. And the paper “Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream: The Greek Antichrist” will prove from Scripture that the third empire represented by the belly and thighs of brass is not Greece, but Rome. I mention these papers only to show that all prophecy should be interpreted by Scripture. In my opinion, if we fail to do that we demean the Word of God and cannot hope to come to His truth).*
“ONE STONE UPON ANOTHER”
In Appendix I of this paper I will share my view of when this prophecy shall be fulfilled based solely on Scripture. But in this, and the following sections, I would like to call the reader’s attention to the difficulties involved when we do not interpret Scripture with Scripture. The reader will note that our Lord told His disciples that there will not be one stone left upon another. But that is not true if we take this prophecy to have been fulfilled in 70 AD because as most of us know from pictures, at least, the western wall is still standing. The western wall, also called “the wailing wall” was part of the temple area and is included in the prophecy. (The objection that the western wall was not part of the temple will be discussed in Appendix I.)
We read in Matt. 24:1-2, “….and His disciples came to Him, for to shew Him the buildings of the temple; and Jesus said unto them, ‘See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down”.
Surely we cannot say that most of the temple buildings were destroyed and that’s close enough. When we consider the God-given reason for prophecy as told in Is. 48:5 we must see that when God’s prophecies are fulfilled, they are always fulfilled in full, not in part. That verse reads, “…..before it came to pass I shewed it to thee; lest thou shouldest say, ‘Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image hath commanded them'”. In other words, God fulfills His prophecies, among other reasons, to prove that He is indeed God. A partially fulfilled prophecy does not prove that He is God.
My point is that if one accepts an interpretation that is not based on Scripture, one is left with the conclusion that God’s prophecy was not completely fulfilled.*
It has been suggested that the buildings at which Christ and His disciples were looking must be the temple of the prophesy. But did Christ actually say that those particular stones would be thrown down? Let us look again at what He actually said. “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down”.
Please note that Christ did not say, as is assumed by most, that those stones would be thrown down. He said that there shall be no stone that is not thrown down. (The utter perfection of the Word of God never eases to amaze me). I agree that the assumption made by most that Christ was speaking of the buildings at which He was looking is not without merit. But given the fact that the prophecy was not fulfilled in that some stones were not thrown down, and that the question asked by the disciples were of the end times (“what shall be the sign of Thy coming?”), in my opinion, we should not assume that Christ was speaking of the buildings in from of Him.
WILL GOD DESTROY JERUSALEM AGAIN?
Most interpret the parable of the wedding feast as recorded in Matt. 22 as having been fulfilled in 70 AD when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman army. I would like to focus on just three elements of that parable which proves that the parable could not refer to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
1) We read in Matt. 22:7, “But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city”. The king in this parable represents God. So most take this to mean that God sent the Roman army to destroy Jerusalem.
But let us consider Ezek. 5:9 which reads, “And I will do in thee (Jerusalem) that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like”. The context will show that this verse has to do with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar. But please note, God said the He would “not do any more the like”. In other words, we read here God’s promise that He will never again destroy Jerusalem. (Appendix IV of this paper will present the Scriptural evidence that Ezek. 5:9 does not say, as has been suggested by some, that God will destroy Jerusalem again, but not in the same manner or to the same degree He destroyed it was destroyed in Babylonian times, but rather it is said as a comfort. to Israel that God will never again destroy Jerusalem).
If we accept the interpretation that the prophecy of the parable of Matt. 22 was fulfilled in 70 AD and that the king (i.e. who represents God in this parable) destroyed Jerusalem, we are left with the unthinkable conclusion that either there is a contradiction in the Word of God or God broke His promise to never again destroy Jerusalem. I can speak only for myself and say that I cannot, and do not accept either conclusion. I suggest that this prophecy was not fulfilled in 70 AD and that it does not even refer to Jerusalem. This view is discussed in Appendix II.
2) We read in Matt. 22:1-2, “And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like unto……”. The kingdom of Heaven is the term used of Christ’s millennial reign over Israel (please see the paper on this web-site on the kingdom of Heaven for the Scriptural evidence of that statement). Note the phrase “is like unto”. That tells us that this parable is a simile. The Companion Bible defines a simile as, “when one thing resembles another”. In other words, the parable of the wedding feast resembles the kingdom of Heaven. But the kingdom of Heaven is Israel centered and Israel had already been set aside by the time the Roman army destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. Therefore, the events of 70 AD can have nothing to do with the Israel centered kingdom of Heaven. To say that it does totally denies the principle of right division.
3) Verse 7 tells us that the king “sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city”. Verses 8-10 tell of the servants going to the “highways” and were instructed to bid those to the marriage. Many believe that those in the highways are Gentiles of the dispensation of the mystery. They base that on the assumption that the destruction spoken of in this verse refers to the destruction of 70 AD. The problem with that assumption is, once again, it puts the dispensation of the mystery in a parable that describes the Israel centered kingdom of Heaven. Again, that denies the principle of right division.
Appendix II gives a scripturally based interpretation of this parable.*
The idea put forth by E.W. Bullinger is that Luke 21:6-11 refers to the tribulation, but that verses 12 through 24 speak of events that took place before the tribulation, i.e. in 70 AD. Dr. Bullinger suggested in his Companion Bible App. 155 that “all that is recorded concerning Jerusalem in vv. 12-24 would take place before the great tribulation”. In other words, the phrase “before all these ” in verse 12 tells us that vv. 12-24 will take place before the tribulation, i.e. in 70 AD. Let us examine that thought.
I will quote Luke 21:11-12, “……..and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.. But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for My Name’s sake”. The question is: does “before all these” refer to before the tribulation as Dr. Bullinger asserts, or does it refer to before the signs (vs. 11 only) that signify the beginning of the day of the Lord?
As the reader will see as we continue in this study, if we see the phrase “before all these” referring to verses 12-24 as Dr. Bullinger suggested, there are contradictions in the Word of God. But, if we see that phrase as referring to before the cosmic signs, all is as perfect as one would expect from God’s prophecies.
Again, my point in this section is not to give my view of this section of Luke, but only to point out the difficulties inherent in the interpretation accepted by most, that the destruction of Jerusalem described in Luke 21:20-24 was completed in 70 AD, a description that is not based on Scripture because the Bible never mentions the Roman destruction of Jerusalem.
Let us consider Luke 21:22 which falls in the context of what many believe to be the events of 70 AD. That verse reads, “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled”. But God had promised in Ezek. 5:9 (“And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like”) that He would never again destroy Jerusalem after the Babylonian destruction. Therefore, the destruction of 70 AD was not from God and therefore, was not His vengeance. That is one difficulty with seeing this passage as having been fulfilled in 70 AD, but let us continue.
Note the phrase “these be the days of vengeance”. When are “the days of vengeance”? We read in Is. 63:3-4, “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with Me: for I will tread them in Mine anger, and trample them in My fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon My garments, and I will stain all My raiment. for the day of vengeance is in Mine heart, and the year of My redeemed is come”.
“The year of My redeemed is come” refers to the second coming of Christ when His redeemed will be raised. That fits perfectly with the fact that the Lord will return to earth right after the day of wrath, which is right after the tribulation. All these things (the day of wrath, the day of vengeance and the year of the Lord’s redeemed) are end time events.
In other words, by comparing Luke 21:22 with Is. 63:3-4 (Scripture with Scripture) we see that the day of vengeance will be in the end times, not in 70 AD.
Let us consider one more difficulty with the view that Luke 21:12-24 is not an end time prophecy. If Luke 21:12-28 is, as I believe it to be, an end time prophecy, then the times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled in the end times. If it is not an end time prophecy, and the times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled when Jerusalem is no longer “trodden down” we have a contradiction in the Word of God. Let me explain that statement.
The entire city of Jerusalem was freed from Palestinian control in 1967, i.e. Jerusalem was no longer trodden down by the Gentiles. The Greek word translated “fulfilled” in the phrase, “until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” is “pleeroo“, and is often used of the fulfillment of prophecy. That means that once the times of the Gentiles have been fulfilled, Jerusalem will never again be “trodden down”. And therein lies the contradiction.
We read in Rev. 11:2, “But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (three and one half years). The Greek word translated “tread” is “pateo”, the same one used in Luke 21:24 and is translated “trodden”, “and they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nation: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled”. Note that this treading down will be for three and one half, i.e the time of the tribulation.
My point is that Jerusalem will be trodden down again in the end times, i.e. during the tribulation. That means that in order to avoid a contradiction, we must conclude that the times of the Gentiles spoken of in Luke 21:24 refers to the end times. But let us continue with other scriptures that speak of the destruction of Jerusalem in the end times.
We read in Zech. 14:2 “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity.….”. Proof that this has to do with the end times is found in the context. Zech. 14:3-4 reads, “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, ……And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives….”.
Dan. 11:33 does not specifically mention the destruction of Jerusalem, but note the same catastrophes are spoken of in this verse as are spoken of in Luke 21:24. “But they “shall fall by the sword and by flame, by captivity and by spoil many days” Let me quote Luke 21:24 for comparison. “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem will be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled”.
In short, because Jerusalem will be trodden down in the end times, the times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled in the end times. That being the case, Luke 21:24 is an end time prophecy. If Luke 21:24 is an end time prophecy, and as shown above verse 23 is an end time prophecy (the day of vengeance) I believe that it is most logical to conclude that the entire passage from 12-14 is an end time prophecy. (For a more complete study of the “times of the Gentiles”, please see the paper on that subject).
Appendix III of this paper offers a totally scripturally based interpretation of this passage in Luke 21, which will, I believe show that it is an end time prophecy, and refers to the destruction of Jerusalem during the tribulation and followed by the day of vengeance.*
APPENDIX I: A SCRIPTURAL INTERPRETATION OF MATTHEW 24:1-2
We read in Matt. 24:1-2, “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple; and His disciples came to Him for to shew Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, ‘See ye not all these things: verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down'”.
We will consider the following topics in order to come to a correct view of this prophecy:
We read in Matt. 24:1 that the disciples showed Jesus “the buildings of the temple”.
Some have suggested that the western wall was not part of the temple. Strictly speaking that is true, the western wall was part of the retaining wall that surrounded the temple. But I believe a careful study of the phrase in Matt. 24:1 is called for. That phrase is, “for to shew Him the buildings of the temple”. The Greek word translated “buildings” in this phrase is “kubia”. It is indeed a very interesting word. It is used eighteen times and is translated “building(s)” six times and “edify” or “edification” twelve times. It is clear that the basic meaning of the word is “edification”. The archaic definition of the English words “edify” and “edification” means “build or construct“. The noun form then is “structure”
In fact, if we look again at Matt. 24:1 I think we may see that definition more clearly. “…..His disciples came to Him for to shew Him the buildings of the temple”. Note that we do not read that they showed Christ “the temple” but the “buildings of the temple”. In my opinion, because the Greek word is so often translated “edify” or “edification” this indicates the structures of the temple as that is what “edify” means. (I never cease to marvel at how God used the exact word so that we might know exactly what He intended us to understand.)
Let us continue with this phrase “the buildings of the temple” with a consideration of the word “of”. In my opinion it is the genitive of relation which the Companion Bible defines as “equivalent to ‘pertaining to'”. In other words, the phrase “the buildings of the Temple” may be understood as “the structures pertaining to the temple”.
So the Greek word does not tell us that it means a building as we think of a building, but it means a structure. In that case, I believe that, as used in Matt. 24:1, the word includes the retaining wall. And because a portion of the retaining wall is still standing, the prophecy of Matt. 24:2 (“there shall not be left here one stone upon another”) was not fulfilled in 70 A.D.*
It should be noted however that some archeologists and scholars believe that the wall was not part of the temple, but rather part of a Roman fortress. But as stated above, others believe that the wall was part of the temple. In other words, we have conflicting views of the scholars. That being the case one would need to decide if the prophecy of Matt. 24 was fulfilled in 70 A. D. by Scripture alone, i.e. without the aid of disagreeing archeologists, which I believe is the best way this question should be addressed anyway. What can we learn from the passage in question that would help us determine if it was fulfilled in 70 A. D.?
The scene recorded in Matt. 24 begins with the disciples bringing Christ to the buildings of the temple. As He sat there Christ told the disciples, “There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down”. And it was that comment that led to the question recorded in Matt. 24:3, “And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when shall these things be and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world (Gr. “aion”, age)?’”
My point is that the question, “what shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the age” did not come out of thin air. It came rather from the statement that the temple would be destroyed. What was it about the statement of destruction that led to the question of the end of the age? It was, of course, the prophecy of the destruction of the temple in the end times recorded in Dan. 9:26. That verse reads, “….and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary and the end thereof shall be with a flood”.
So the disciples understood that Christ’s statement of destruction of the temple came from an end time prophecy. And that is what led them to ask about the end times. In short, both the disciples’ question and Christ’s answer concerned the end times. And the destruction of the temple in 70 A. D. was not recorded, but it is a prophecy of the end times.
So again, we have the choice of basing our conclusion as to whether Matt. 24 was fulfilled in 70 A. D. on Scripture which does describe the destruction of the temple, or on an event that is not mentioned in the Word of God. The former is based on what, as believers, we know to be truth, i.e. the Word of God, and the latter is based on the writings of man which we know as human beings to be flawed.
APPENDIX II: A SCRIPTURAL INTERPRETATION OF MATTHEW 22:1-13
“And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, ‘Tell them which are bidden, ‘Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my farlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage’. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to the farm, another to his merchandise: and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them, But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways and as many as ye shall find bid to the marriage.’ So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he saith unto him, ‘Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth’. For many are called, but few are chosen”.
First, we must bear in mind that whatever the point of the parable is, it is like the kingdom of Heaven in some way. Secondly, in order to understand who are the many and who are the called in the context of this particular parable, we must understand 1) what does the wedding feast represent?, 2) who are represented by “them which are bidden?”, 3) whose army was sent?, 4) to what city were they sent to destroy?, 5) who are those bidden from the highways,? 6) who does the man without the wedding garment represent?. There is no explanation of the parable and neither the context or the point answers these questions. We must therefore learn from the study of the Old Testament, and answer these questions by comparing Scripture with Scripture.
1) What does the wedding feast represent? Matthew 9:14-15 tells us Who the bridegroom is, “Then came to Him the disciples of John, saying, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but Thy disciples fast not?’ And Jesus said unto them, ‘Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from thee, and then shall they fast'”. It is clear that the Bridegroom is Christ. which means, of course, the wedding of the parable represents the wedding of Christ.
2) Who are represented by “them which are bidden”, but did not come? Obviously, they are the unbelievers of Israel. why of Israel? Because the kingdom of Heaven, which is the subject of this parable, is Israel centered.
3) Whose army was sent? We read in Ezek. 5:9, “And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations”. Ezekiel was a prophet who spoke of God’s punishment of Jerusalem when He used the Babylonians to destroy it. We read in this verse that God promised that He would not do that again. Therefore, since this parable uses the king to represent God, and God promised that He would not destroy Jerusalem again, I believe we must conclude that it was not God who sent the Roman army in 70 AD and Jerusalem cannot be the city the king of this parable sent his army to destroy.
But we know that God, according to this parable, will send an army, but again, not to destroy Jerusalem. We must determine then to what city God will send His army to destroy. In order to answer that question we must determine when God will send His army. We read in Joel 2:11, “And the Lord shall utter His voice before His army: for His camp is very great: for He is strong that executeth His word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible…..”. Note this verse speaks of “His army”, i.e. God’s army. Compare that to Matt. 22:7b, “the king sent forth his armies“. Note also that “His armies” will march in the day of the Lord. So we have “his armies” of Matt. 22 being God’s armies of Joel 2. By comparing Scripture with Scripture we have answered our question, whose army was sent, i.e. the Lord’s army. We also have learned when His army will be sent, i.e. in the day of the Lord.
4) To what city will “His army” be sent? Joel two does not tell us of a particular city that will be destroyed by “His army”, but Rev. 18 does tell us of a city that will be destroyed by God in the day of the Lord, which is when the army of Joel two will be sent. Rev. 18:2, “Babylon the great is fallen…..”. And in verse 8 of that chapter we read, “….she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her”. Rev. 18:20 is also helpful, “Rejoice over her, thou heaven and ye holy apostles and prophets, for God hath avenged you on her“. Isn’t that what the king will send his army to do, i.e. to avenge the murders of those who were sent to call the guests to the wedding? Verse 24 reiterates, “and in her (Babylon) was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth”. Also Rev. 19: 2, “….for He hath……..avenged the blood of His servants at her hand”. Rev. 19:7 even connects the destruction of Babylon with the wedding parable of Matt. 22, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come…..”. By comparing Scripture with Scripture we have learned that the king’s army of Matthew 22 is “His army” of Joel two. And that that army will march in the day of the Lord during which time Babylon will be destroyed.
5) Who are those bidden from the highways? To know when the ones of the highways will be bidden is crucial in understanding who they are. In verse 7 the king sends out his army. In verse 8 we read, “Then saith he to his servants, “the wedding is ready….”. They were sent after the destruction of the “murderers” and the burning of their city, i.e. after the day of the Lord when Babylon will be destroyed.
One of the events connected with the return of Christ which is, of course, after the day of the Lord when His wedding will be ready, is the gathering of Israel. The gathering of Israel is prophesied several times in the Old Testament, but let us consider Ezek. 20:34, “I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered”. Note Israel will be gathered from the nations. I believe it is these nations that the parable refers to as the “highways” to which the servants of Matt. 22:9-10 will be sent. That these servants were sent to the nations to gather Israel is in keeping with the fact that the parable is one of those that teach of the kingdom of Heaven. The kingdom of Heaven is Christ’s rule of Israel in the millennium. (For the scriptural evidence of that statement please see the paper on this web-site The Kingdom of Heaven). It is also in keeping with the fact that Matthew’s Gospel is the most Israel centered of the four Gospels and this parable is recorded only in Matthew’s Gospel.
6) Who does the man without the wedding garment represent?. He obviously represents those gathered from the highways who were found unworthy to attend the wedding feast. Ezek.20:38 reads, “And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against Me……they shall not enter into the land of Israel…..”. As the paper on this web-site about the kingdom of Heaven will prove, there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” outside the land of Israel in the millennial reign. This is where we are told the unworthy guests will be cast (see Matt. 22:13).
We are now ready to determine who is meant by “the many that are called” and “the few that are chosen”. If we are to answer that question from the context, (as I believe we should) we must conclude that in this parable and in this context, the gathered of Israel from all the nations to which they had been scattered are those who are called. And the righteous of that group, who will be allowed entrance into the kingdom of Heaven are those who are chosen.
In what way is this parable like the kingdom of Heaven? It is like the kingdom of Heaven in that only the righteous will be allowed entrance into it so that righteousness shall “shine forth as the sun” (Matt. 13:42).*
APPENDIX III: A SCRIPTURAL INTERPRETATION OF LUKE 21:20-24
Our Lord’s discourse recorded in Luke 21 begins with Luke 21:6. “As for these things which ye behold, the days will come in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down”. In verse seven the question is asked of Christ, “Master, ..when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?” We read the same statement and resulting question in Matthew 24:2-3, “And Jesus said unto them, ‘See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And…..the disciples came unto Him privately saying, ‘Tell us, when shall these things be and what shall be the sign of Thy coming…”. By comparing Scripture with Scripture we have learned that both Luke 21 and Matthew 24 address the same question and give the same answers. Let us continue with our comparison.
Note Matthew 24:5, “For many shall come in My name, saying, ‘I am Christ’; and shall deceive many”. Compare that with Luke 21:8, “….Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in My name, saying, ‘I am Christ’…..”.
Matthew 24:6, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled….”. Luke 21:9, “But when ye shall hear of wars and commotion’s, be not terrified”.
Matthew 24:7, “For nation shall rise up against nation and kingdom against kingdom…”. Luke 21:10, “Then He said unto them, ‘Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom”.
Matthew 24:9, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake”. Luke 21:12, “But before all these (earthquakes etc,. verse 11) , they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake”.
We go now to Matthew 24:15-16, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judea flee to the mountains”. In Luke 21:20-21 we read, “And when you see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof his nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains….”.
Matthew 24:19, “And woe unto them that are with child that give suck in those days”. Luke 21:23, “But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days!…”.
In Matt. 24:29 we read, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken”. In Luke 21:24-25 we read, “…..and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. and there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars: and upon the earth……”.
My point is that Matthew 24 is undoubtedly a prophecy of the end times because it is in answer to the question, “when shall these things be and what shall be the sign of Thy coming”. Because Matt. 24 is an end time prophecy and Luke 21 is basically the same message, so too Luke 21 is an end time prophecy.
But some will point to the fact that the prophecy in Luke 21 is not exactly the same as that in Matthew 24. But as one compares the so-called “sermon on the mount” as recorded in Matthew chapters 5-7 with the message recorded in Luke 6 it will become clear that our Lord gave very much the same sermon at two different times and two different places. Matthew records the message Christ preached when He “went up into a mountain” (Matthew 5:1). In Luke 6:17 to the end of the chapter we have a record of Christ’s message given as He “stood on a level place” (Luke 6:1). The sermon on the mount begins, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven”. The sermon on the level place begins, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God”. I will not digress too far to point out all the similarities of these two sermons, or the fact that while on the level place Christ left out many of the sayings that He preached while on the mount. If the reader will compare these two scriptures, he/she will see that, while the two do indeed differ, there are many similarities and no contradictions which point to the most logical conclusion that they are basically the same message given at two different times in two different places.
What is true of the sermons preached on the mount and on a level place is equally true of the discourses of Matthew 24 and Luke 21. That is to say, there is a a total lack of contradiction in the two and there are a plethora of similarities, so that we may be lead to the most obvious conclusion that they are basically the same message given at two different times at two different places.
Let us come back to the comparison of Matthew 24:15-16 with Luke 21:20-21 . In Matthew we read, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place…let them which be in Judea flee…”. And in Luke we read, “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee…”. We have already determined that both Matthew 24 and Luke 21 concern the (at that time) impending tribulation. And Christ tells His listeners to flee. But in Matthew they should flee when they see the abomination of desolation, while in Luke 21 they should flee when they see Jerusalem compassed about with armies. Are these two different events, or are they the same event?. That question is answered in Daniel 11:31.
Because this is may be a very difficult passage to understand I will quote verse 31 from the NIV, which is, in my opinion, easier to understand. “His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation“. Here we have a description of the scene during which the antichrist will set up the abomination of desolation which, according to Matthew 24:15 will mark the time that all should flee. The antichrist will bring his “armed forces” to the temple. That makes sense, he has in mind to put the abomination (scriptural term for an idol) in the house of God. One can only imagine how the appearance of an idol in God’s house would effect those who worship there. It is not difficult to understand why the antichrist would have his armed forces to help in the process of setting up this abomination of desolation.
What we learn from Dan.11 is that while Matthew tells us what the antichrist will do in the temple, Luke tells us what he will do with his armies in order to facilitate his actions in the temple. There is no contradiction here, there is only a fuller account of the same event.
Let us review what has been presented thus far. Matthew 24 is a record of Christ’s answer to the question asked by His disciples as to what will be the sign of the end of the age and of His coming. One of the main events of the end times is the tribulation. By comparing Luke 21 with Matthew 24 we have seen that Luke 21 answers the same question and also includes a warning as to what to look for. We have read in Daniel 11 that Jerusalem will be compassed about by the armies of the antichrist when he, the antichrist, places the abomination in the temple. Therefore, the encompassing of Jerusalem and the placing of the abomination in the temple are two aspects of the same event.*
APPENDIX IV. FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF EZEKIEL 5:9
Some may argue that God was issuing a warning in this verse. That is to say, it could be argued that God was saying that He will not destroy Jerusalem in the same way, i.e. by fire, or perhaps not to the degree that He had destroyed the city. The question then is this: Is Ezek. 5:9 a warning or a comfort that God will never again destroy Jerusalem?
This is a difficult question to answer. How can we determine what this verse in Ezekiel is telling us? I believe that we must have a full understanding of God’s attitude, if you will, about the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. I believe that will help us determine if Ezekiel 5:9 is meant as a comfort to Israel, or as a warning of a future disaster beyond the Babylonian destruction?
The note in the Companion Bible tells us of 23 times that prophecy will be fulfilled in order that Israel will know that Jehovah is God. So yes, this was a terrible judgment on a nation that had sinned grievously. But it was also a message to the nation that God loved that He is their God and as the warnings come to fruition when Jerusalem is destroyed by the Babylonians, they will see that and hopefully turn to Him. In other words, it is a punishment, but it is also an attempt to bring Israel back to Him, because He loved them.
I would like to quote several passages that give an account of God’s coming judgment of Jerusalem and is immediately followed by God’s comfort to Israel. Let us consider, for example, Ezek. 16:59-63 which reads, “For thus saith the Lord God; ‘I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant. Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant……”.
This is a truly poignant passage. It tells us that God will punish Israel, but it also comforts Israel by reminding them that they are God’s covenant people and He will not abandon them forever.
There is another such comforting passage in Ezek. 36:3-11, “Therefore prophecy and say, ‘Thus saith the Lord God; ‘Because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen…….Surely in the fire of My jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the heathen….which have appointed My land into their possession……. Therefore thus saith the Lord God; ‘I have lifted up Mine hand, Surely the heathen that are about you, they shall bear their shame. But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches. and yield your fruit to My People Israel….for behold I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown: and I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded: and I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings, and ye shall know that I am the Lord”.
In this passage God comforts His People that He is about to visit catastrophe upon with the promise that He will be “for” them as He was before, and that they will prosper again.
Let us also consider Ezek. chapter 11. Verses 5-11 record the prophecy of doom and destruction, but let us also consider verses 16-17, “Therefore say, ‘Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come’”. In this passage God promised to be a “little sanctuary” for Israel even while they are in captivity. That must have been a true comfort for the people at the time.
Ezek. 14 is yet another passage wherein is recorded God’s punishment of Israel for their sins, immediately followed by His comfort to them. We read in Ezek. 14:21-23, “For thus saith the Lord God, ‘How much more when I send My four sore judgments upon Jerusalem…..Yet, behold therein shall be left a remnant that shall be brought forth, both sons and daughters: behold they shall come forth unto you……. and ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem..…And they shall comfort you, when ye see their ways and their doings……”.
Ezek. 16:55 is another passage of encouragement and comfort, “When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughter shall return to your former estate”.
Because there are no passages in Ezekiel that warn of a future destruction and/or punishment of Jerusalem after the Babylonian destruction, and there are several passages with which God comforted Israel, I suggest that Ezekiel 5:9 also falls under the existing category of comfort and encouragement, rather than the non-existing category of warning of future punishments only.
Therefore, we must, in my opinion, conclude that Ezek. 5:9 is not a warning that God will destroy Jerusalem in a different manner or to a different degree than the Babylonian destruction. It is a promise of comfort that God will never again destroy Jerusalem.
*The bold type in the quotations were added.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please e-mail me at email@example.com